“It is finished.” These are the words spoken by Jesus on the cross, in John 19, right before he died. And this tells us that Jesus had fulfilled the will of the Father. It tells us that his work of atonement was now complete.
Because this is true, have you ever wondered why we’re still here? If Jesus has atoned for our sins, why are we still living in this world? If our salvation is complete, why must we continue to live in a world of sin? If our sins have been cleansed, why can’t we go to paradise now?
I think this is addressed well in 2 Peter 3:9, where he writes: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”
We see in this passage that God is patient. And, although we might like to experience his eternal kingdom sooner rather than later, this is yet another demonstration of God’s grace. He’s patient because he does not want any to perish. He’s patient because he wants all to reach repentance.
In displaying his patience, God is giving people the opportunity to turn from their sin. He’s giving them the opportunity to receive the salvation he’s provided for them. And this is where the role of the church ties in. This is where we see the purpose of missions.
As the church, we’ve been called by God to proclaim the gospel to the whole creation (Mark 16:15). We’ve been called by God to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). As those who have received the grace of God, we’re to share his heart. We too are to desire the salvation of all. And we’re to make the most of every moment that others might have the opportunity to hear the gospel and trust in Jesus.
The question for us, then, is this: Do we share the heart of God? Do we truly desire the salvation of all people? Are we making the most of every moment, that others might have the opportunity to receive his salvation?
I, for one, am eternally thankful for the patience of God. Were he not patient, I would not share in his blessings. However, because he is long-suffering, I was given the opportunity to hear the gospel and to trust in him.
I now want others to have the same opportunity. Even though it would be wonderful to live in the presence of God right at this very moment, even though it would be delightful were I now free from this world of sin, I desire that others receive the same blessing. I am willing to endure what I must that others might not perish.
I pray that, as a church, this would be a desire shared by us all. I pray that, because of the great blessing we’ve received, we’ll patiently endure. I pray that we’ll endure that we might carry out the call entrusted to us by our Lord. And I pray that, in this way, he’ll use us to draw many to faith that they also might share in the blessings he’s provided.
~ Kent Sperry